Rephased xs650 chopper


A Interview with Hugh on his Rephased xs650

A couple days ago I got in touch with Hugh who has been busy working on a Re-phased xs650 chopper. Hugh was nice enough to talk with me a little bit and give me the scoop on his crazy cool project. Hugh a Industrial Design student at Appalachian State University put a lot of work into this XS project.  It is pretty apparent that thought and attention to detail was put into every single component on his machine.


Click to enlarge

Ted: So what’s going on with your engine man? Hugh: I mentioned before that I wanted to re-phase the xs650 engine. In short, the pistons on the stock engine both go up and down at the same time. Basically its a 360 engine. While there is nothing really wrong with it in a stock application, it does vibrate quite a bit. When you add larger pistons, cam, carbs, etc the engine does take a beating with 78MM Pistons, bumping compression to 9.1:1. overbore to 707CCs!! To make the engine run a bit smoother, I want to change the rotation to 277 degrees. ( Rephased xs650 diagram ). Basically, it will allow for one cylinder to be traveling up as the other is fired down. 277 isn’t a magical number. It is as close to 270 degrees as the stock crank will allow you to turn. attachment-9

Hugh: To make this happen, I had to remove the crank and pull apart the two halves. There are nightmare stories about this, so I had seriously debated NOT doing this modification. Some people have issues getting a 20 ton press to get these apart. attachment-1

I have read that the Air flows faster and smoother with the Lectron Flatslide carbs 34MM due to the flat slide configuration and the jet blocks makes a smooth effect and better throttle response.  What do you think of yours?

Hugh: The Carbs are Vintage Lectron 34MM Flatslides.  These particular carbs were used on a drag bike in the late 60-early 70’s according to Fast By Gast who has helped me set them up for this bike.  I’m running #FBG XL1 Metering Rods right now.  Unfortunately, today’s crappy fuel has been a problem in these carbs.  I can’t run the power jets, as they pull from the bottom of the acrylic/plastic bowls on the carbs.  The new fuels are eating the bowls as we speak, and the nozzles for the powerjets won’t stay in.  I may try to machine my own new bowls in the future, because I do love these carbs.  The cool factor of clear bowls will be lost though, unless I can find a suitable material to make new ones out of!!  Last time I ran with the Power Jets hooked up, I know I was pushing alot more power to the rear wheel at wide open throttle.  So I really wanna get those back on track, but Its not hurting for power as it sits.  The intakes are something I made myself, but in all honesty, are probably very similar to the Shell Racing intakes.  I wanted longer runners to be port matched to the carbs and head.  The intakes flow 34MM all the way to the valves, The power is smooth, and this thing is a torque monster. I have accidentally slipped the foot clutch a few times while goosing the throttle, and it will definitely lift the front wheel.  I’m just not cool enough for foot clutched, hand shifted wheelies, yet….  Haha… attachment-5

Hugh: The cam got so loud that I shut the bike down on I-40 on my way to Maggie Valley for the last leg of the “Long Road Home” ride.  My best friends ma brought my truck and we loaded it up.  Even so, the thing still ran fine, just a bit on the loud side (kinda like a really large single piston diesel, hahaha).  I still managed to fire up the bike and get it to the show, and entered into the Smokeout X ride in Bike Show. I know that the folks from “The Horse” magazine have a prejudice against Jap bikes, and especially the XS’s.  Kinda like how the Jockey Journal kicked off all the Jap based builds a while back.  Seems to be a trend.  Anyways, I got LOTS of great feedback from those in the show and several vendors, but I don’t believe any Jap bikes placed in the show. Oh well, better luck next time right?  I got the bike back home to Boone, tore into the engine and saw that the cam had sheered diagonally, thats why it stayed together (Kinda).  A good friend of mine (the same guy who turned me onto your website) told me to come get an engine he had that was stuck. I tore it down, found the cam was still good and went to mutilating that one too!!!  I sleeved it the full length of the cam, up to the bearings this time.  I gun drilled it for the advance rod, and put it all back together.  This thing screams.  I’m getting upwards of 12K RPM out of it, and the last time I ran with a car traveling next to me, I was pushing 115-120 MPH with more power to come. I don’t run a speedo, so I have to take the Car Driver’s word for it.  Lets just say its gets alot of fun at high speeds being so short and low!!!! 100_3498

Hugh: I’ve been chasing down all the bugs that come with a first build/new bike project.  Vibrations from the road won’t let me have a glass lense in the taillight, so I’m going to cut a plastic one of of an old chrysler taillight i have laying around.  I also had to fight some charging system issues along the way.  Mostly small issues, but stuff that needed addressed regardless.  I think I have about 1600 Miles on it by now, and things are looking good.  I plan to take it on the “Big Mountain Run” sponsored by the Limpnickielot in a few weeks, its only 4 days after I get married, so I gotta pull a few strings. Anyhow, I’m out for a bit this afternoon, hit me back with your questions, and I’ll be glad to get up with you.  We can even do a phone call or whatever if you want.  Just let me know, i don’t bite too bad… attachment-11

So your cam came loose and messed up the inside of your re-phased xs engine and then you switched out all those parts into a new one that you built?

Hugh: Nah, the cam sheared right at the end of the sleeve that i had done.  Note to self, sleeve a cam PAST the cam lobes, haha…  That was a learning process for sure!!  The engine ran perfect, even with the broken cam, the points rod was keeping it all aligned, and the bearings were keeping it from pushing the two halves away from each other.  I’ll tell ya, XS engines run no matter what!! I’ve had this thing so rich gas was dripping out of the exhaust and it still sat and idled!!!  These older carbs were only available with clear bowls, so I won’t be able to find “stock” bowls to fit.  They are quite unique in their design really.  I’ll just machine some out in the next few weeks, no big deal really. Tuning was a pain, but I’m a glutton for punishment and very meticulous when it comes to tuning, so I guess it wasn’t too bad.  Unfortunately, the metering rods are fairly expensive, but they are equal to having about 10 Jets.  There are no main jets, primary jets, etc… Just the metering rods.  They do have a powerjet in the top of the carb, but as I mentioned, the barbs won’t stay in the bowls any more, so they are temporarily disconnected.  I’ve looked on ebay for these carbs before, and they are tough to find.

COOL!!! Have you looked into running a banshee permit magneto? I’m running one on my bike and you can run without a battery.. May help your charging issue. Dude, you’re bike is unique enough to make it in the  magazine’s it just sucks that some dudes have to have a prejudiced against the Jap bikes. Nothing like a snobby biker. haha..  I don’t know very many guys that could afford droping 10 grand on a Harley just to chop it up and then spend another $400 for forward controls and shit. The 650 just makes sense in so many different ways. “I was pushing 115-120 MPH with more power to come.” That’s crazy.  So, with a re-phased engine does it run a lot smoother or still vibrate like crazy At speed?

Hugh: The re-phased engine runs really smooth at High RPM’s.  I can’t say %100 compared to a stock engine, as I have never ridden one.  I can say that my roommate runs an XS650 (its blue and black, and has been seen on your site I believe, somebody’s top ten XS650 pics???)  And he knows it runs smoother.  I run solid aluminum handlebar grips, and my hands do not go numb like on other vertical twins I have ridden.  That must say something.  I guess the coolest part is the sound of the bike, along with the ability to reach higher rpms… Its a peaky little motor now, and I think it would run as fast as it wanted so long as I could keep feeding it a proper fuel mixture. I met a fella at the Smokeout X that was running the magneto from a banshee, it was cool as hell.  I’ve already got a battery box bracket welded to my frame, so this bike is gonna keep a battery.  I have solved all my charging issues at this point, so Im not terribly concerned.  I am planning to help a friend build 2 bikes, and we are planning another re-phased engine and the battery-less setup. Hes the same guy that gave me the donor engine for the cam I needed after splitting mine into pieces.

marker41 100_1229

Hugh: Like I said, this was my first bike build.  I really wanted to push my skills further while building this thing. I wanted to learn the lathe, mill, etc…  I even taught myself to TIG, but that was after the bike was finished really. I’ve noticed a trend in the “biker” world that kinda bothers me I guess. I have noticed that your bike is only cool if you use all the “new” cool parts.  Bars from Front St Cycles, pegs and grips from Hippy Killer, Seat from Biltwell, the list goes on and on.  I know WHY your average Joe does this, its easier than fabbing up your own mess, and its proven.  What really gets me is seeing a respected builder cutting corners instead of pushing the envelope.  Why build your own frame, lace your own wheels, and then throw a pre-made set of pegs on it??  Kills me, but thats what the  industry wants to see, support of those who are advertising in their mags and on their websites.  Don’t get me wrong, these company’s make great parts and components, but I would like to see more “Truly Custom” stuff coming from these shops.  Thats not entirely the reason I wanted to build every part and piece that I could, but looking back, thats part of the reason I didn’t buy other peoples products, I wanted a bike that was all mine, mistakes and all!!!  I still can’t keep a taillight lense in the stupid thing, but I have no one to blame but me, HAHA. xs650_front xs650_rear

Hugh: Anyhow, I’m off to the basement, I have a few more parts to make and try tidy up some loose ends so I can hit the road for a few miles tomorrow.  Might try to take it about 200 miles in one trip, see the folks, and come home.  I built it to be nice, but a few road scratches just makes the whole thing worth it to me!

girl_on_bike Thanks Hugh and Congratulations on getting married!


You can read the entire xs650 chopper build threat on


  1. Hans from Holland says:

    Awsome job Hugh, congrats for building one of the most beautful XS on the planet. This is what choppin’ is all about……far out !!!

  2. scheffers says:

    This is one hell of a nice bike! Everything fits!

  3. Teebs says:

    Beautiful bike and a great read. Thanks for sharing, Hugh. And thanks for the work, Ted. The site is awesome!

  4. andy carter says:

    that sounds like quite a wild motor setup your running!! looks like you did some really nice fabrication work on this bike. thanks for the read.

    -pangea andy

  5. RevCain says:

    looks even better in person. even with all the road wear he keeps putting on the bike doing his ongoing R&D it satill looks great due to the small details.

  6. RevCain says:

    oh, and congrats on the wedding

  7. Steve says:

    Hugh nice work . I’m the same way , I like doing all my own parts and pieces , write or wrong it’s mine . I’ve got about a thousand miles on mine now . I’m having a great time ..

  8. Blacksmithbilly says:

    Sweet lil hot rod Hugh!
    Thanks for doing the interview and this is a great website Ted!
    I like torque chops, and seeing guys getting inside of the parallel twin …wringing out more power
    So if you dont mind sharing,what did you end up using/or method for getting the flywheels apart?

  9. Hugh says:


    A few pics up is a tool I made to pull the 2 halves of the crank back together. I used 2 Fine threaded bolts and nuts to press the crank apart. They were about 3/4″ or so, and high grade steel of some sort (I had em laying in my box o’ bolts).

    Basically, cut the bolts down to fit between the 2 halves of the crank. Then thread the nuts onto the bolts, push the bolt/nut combo between the 2 halves of the crank and back the nuts off. This puts pressure against the 2 halves of the crank and allows them to separate. I did this in 2 locations 180 degrees from each other. You’ll only get cranks apart the width of the nut, so you’ll have to re-thread the nuts back down and shim the bolt head out more to finally get the job done. It’s a tough job, your hands will be worn out when you get the crank apart!

    I hope thats a clear enough answer for ya.

  10. Blacksmithbilly says:

    Crystal clear!Thanks
    I am thinking of doing a rephase myself at some point.
    Doesn’t someone manufacture a cam for the rephased motors?

  11. Hugh says:

    Web Cams and Megacycle can take your core, and modify it for the re-phase. Its roughly $400 or so, which is why I modded my own.

  12. Hugh says:

    Web Cams and Megacycle can take your core, and modify it for the re-phase. Its roughly $400 or so, which is why I modded my own.

    Doing the crank yourself is a time consuming project, look at the build thread on pirate4x4 and you’ll see how hard it is to get 4 flywheels all lined up and true. Prepare to cuss, kick and beg for a quick death once you get that part started!!

  13. bob parsley says:

    whoa dude.

  14. jr says:

    i saw one picture of this bike and i have been trying to find it ever since…i love this build. its been a inspirational model for my build.

  15. lance call says:

    hey dude I’m a fellow carolinian, love the bike , just wanted you to know about a rockabilly show in winston salem on july 4th called heavy metal . there will be other xs there. the car/bike show is free. would love to see yours there..

  16. Lazarus A65 says:

    One awesome machine. Can’t wait to see what you do next.

  17. Hugh says:

    Well, I had a good time with the Cycle Source crew riding on the Big Mountain Run a few weeks back… Had a few mishaps, mostly a dead wire in the charging system. Also am Fenderless on the rear now (Long story, and even longer skidmark!!)

    Looking to make some new Intake Velocity Stacks as well as some other small things… New paint on the way as well, as I have to have the tank re-sealed at a radiator shop…

  18. Ted says:

    @ Hugh
    Did you get the banshee charging system setup yet? I was going to tell you that to make sure you put Loctite on all the bolts! I just saw a guy who had a banshee set up and the bolts backed out while he was on the road..

  19. unreconstructed says:

    Man this is what it is all about. Poorboy r & d is what it is all about. I am picking up an ’81 xs 650 on monday. I am trading a ’53 235 and powerglide for it. I look fwd to the build. Has anyone used SU carbs on this bike?

  20. Hugh says:


    I have not bothered with the Banshee setup, since I have not had trouble with my charging system since I fixed that wire… I’m sure It’ll crap out as soon as I’m about 500 miles from home though, hah…

  21. Aaron says:


    Hey just ran across your post while Googling xs yamaha. I have recently taken interest in these xs bikes. I see you are in Boone at App. Nice! I live right down the mountain near Hickory. Hit me up on my email one day, I would like to come see what you guys have going on up there and hopefully soon I will be picking on of these up to work on myself. Hit me up at

  22. Jason says:


    I work with Aaron and he showed me your ‘BAD ASS’ work on the yahamas. I am currently working on a project, or should I say trying to figure out what style I am trying to go with on my bike. The bike I have is a daily driver, 1974 honda cb750 k4. The only thing I have done is changed the mid sized original ape hanger handle bars to old school cafe bars, removed the old sissy bar and ride the hell out of it. Cool look especially since I haven’t seen a cafe style honda of my year in Lenoir NC since I bought the bike. Not sure at this point if I want to go totally cafe or bobber. I will probably start breaking the bike down for restoration at the start of cold weather this year. I can’t seem to stay off the thing long enough during warm weather to do anything to it. Aaron and I have talked about riding up and checking out your work. I have some questions that I would like to talk to you about before I start this adventure. I have a cousin attending college and I am always in the area. Let me know if it would be ok to stop in sometime. Would love to get a closer look at some of your work on the bikes.

    Later and TON-UP!


  23. Hugh says:

    Any of you guys are welcome to drop in, I’ve got several new projects going on, and as usual am always willing to teach or help out… I’m building an engine for RevCain right now, and hopefully doing another re-phase soon.

    I also do alot of side work when School isn’t going full tilt, so if you guys need anything, just let me know…

    Boone NC

  24. Jeremy says:

    Any chance of you telling us what the fuel tank is off of? I love the lines of that tank!

  25. Hugh says:


    The tank is off of a 1957 James… I have only seen 1 other, so if you find one, BUY IT, and send it to me!!!

  26. Joseph says:


    cool build, and superb sounding engine.

    What reference are the Wiseco Pistons that you used ? Am planning to overbore my motor without spending the big bucks on 750cc + kit


  27. Emery says:

    Very Clean… beautiful bike.

  28. Hugh says:


    I used Wiseco 707CC Pistons. Search “Wiseco XS650” on ebay, and they pop up from time to time. You’ll have to have the cylinders bored out of course, I had a shop do that for $40 for me. They are higher compression than most “750” pistons, which is what I wanted as I wanted a full on Hot-Rod XS!!

  29. alexander Bognar says:

    what stretch and drop do you have if any hugh?

  30. Hugh says:

    Frame height was set at 4″… Its low… Stock length hardtail, shortened forks… Bike is narrow, short, and stupid fast…

    Im 6′ tall, and with the peg location and the bars, its a perfect fit for a fast twisty ride…

  31. Hugh says:

    Oh yeah…

    This bike will be featured in CYCLE SOURCE soon! Keep an eye out for the January Edition!!!


  32. reynoldburton says:

    Everything said – killer build!
    So many nice rides on this site – dont know which I like most, hehe.

    And Jason – look at this for inspiration if you´ld like to go caferacer style:

  33. Ted says:

    @Hugh congratulations on the feature in CYCLE SOURCE man.

  34. HoeyUno says:

    Bike looks great. Congrats on the wedding.

  35. Hugh says:

    Tearing this bike down for the winter… Going through the engine to check for any damages, and get it ready for some land speed racing. Adding a steering stabilizer, Chain Guard and Aluminum Fender on the rear… Race Trim / Street Trim

    LAND SPEED RACING here I come!

  36. cole says:

    that tank kicks ass.. hope my build turns out as good.

  37. REEB! says:

    This bike is badass! I would love to have a rephased bike!

  38. Hugh says:

    REEB! – I am now building these engines, cranks, cams, etc… for others… AND, I might be doing a re-phased speedster build for a magazine soon…




  40. HAPPY DAN says:

    This dude is top notch!!Spend some money at his shop,we dont want to lose this guy…

  41. Mark says:

    Hi there – I like the tank you have on your chopper – can you tell me what bike it was originally off? Looks a bit like a Bonneville shape…
    Lovely bike by the way.
    Cheers, Mark

  42. HUGH says:

    Thanks for all the comments guys. If all goes well, this bike will be retired to the good life and my next build will blow it out of the water!!

    The tank is off of a 50’s Famous James motorcycle, good luck finding one, and if you do, send it to me 🙂

  43. paul says:

    Jesus dude, How can anyone build a decent bike like that and be so clueless at the same time….newbies I guess….it was your “first” build….

    Some people actually support others in the industry…..its the American way. Try being professional in your speech while giving an interview. Learn more about what the hell you are talking about before you talk down on others or try to talk mechanically on what you “think” is the general consensus about the XS.

  44. Dave says:

    Well Paul building a collection of AFTERMARKET parts is one thing.
    Building your OWN bike is another.

    What part of OWN did you not understand?

  45. paul says:

    Not sure what the hell you are talking about dude…..OWN….AFTERMARKET….wtf? And who the hell are YOU anyway…..on second thought, who cares….Hugh would have been the only person here with an appropriate reply and he has yet to.

  46. Hugh says:


    I dig what you are saying. But to me, there is a major difference between “Assembling” a motorcycle from a pile of purchased parts, and creating your own parts from nothing more than raw materials. I don’t feel the need to defend what I said in this article. Its been almost 2 years since this was published here, and I’ve learned alot about the industry since. Yes, I get the part about supporting other shops, But I stand by my own actions and words. I am a Product Designer. It is my Job to push the envelope, try new things, and question the status quo.

    And though you think I was a “newbie” at bike building, which is true, it allowed me to build from my mind, not a catalogue.

    Paul, if this rubbed you the wrong way, I’m sorry. And please, feel free to drop me an email or check out the Blog sometime if you still feel that I am just another “Clueless” builder with luck of the draw.

    As for the rest of you guys (and gals), keep on chopping and have fun with these bikes. Taking yourself too seriously isn’t worth the effort. See ya on the road!


  47. Nick says:

    hi mate its all your fault , saw your bike and loved it ,like what you said about your builds ,anyway nearly finished mine but have trouble with crank case pressure ,its a 840cc halco and the oil comes out from the clutch push rod seal all the signs of crank case pressure gasket split drama ?? is it possible to turn engine over and just split the bottom case off to do it

  48. Ewan says:

    One of the best builds i’ve seen, and there’s no mistaking you ambition and skills.
    I totally support your theory, but the aftermarket stuff(made by other enthusiasts – let’s not forget) is a godsend for people like me who hasn’t got the space or the skills to build from scratch. More power to you and I hope you make a fortune with your skills!

  49. psychomiller says:

    Can I run stock cam with the rephased crank

  50. Hugh says:


    Yes, you can run a stock profiled camshaft, but it must be rephased to match the crank. If you need more information, email me at